Camp Chi’s big birthday

 Stories of friends, family, and lasting love

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Clockwise from top left: Melanie Levy, a Camp Chi “lifer,” and Josh Mintzer met at Camp Chi in 2011 and are looking forward to their upcoming wedding. Laurie Greiman and Peter Walton (second and third from left) and family at their granddaughter’s baby naming. Julie and Sheldon Silverman, with their children. Julie and Sheldon met at Camp Chi in 1986 and will soon celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary. Alexa and Aaron Appelbaum met at Camp Chi in 2009 at the age of 15. They married in 2018, nine years after they first met.

Summer 2021 is JCC Camp Chi's 100th birthday. As we mark this special centennial milestone, we celebrate not just when Chi began, but all the stories that began at- and are- because of Camp Chi.

Camp Chi has been the beloved home away from home for tens of thousands of campers for generations- unplugging kids from the rigors and stress of the school year and connecting them to life-changing moments. Ask anyone who loves Camp Chi and they will tell you Camp Chi magic is real, lasting, impossible to explain, and treasured for a lifetime.

"The true magic of Camp Chi is found in the relationships built at camp," said Jon Levin, Director of Camp Chi. "It's the friendships made at camp and grounded in shared experiences. It's the bonds between counselors and campers, the connection between the staff. And, for some, Camp Chi is truly the place where stories begin."

Here are some love stories that began at Camp Chi:

Melanie and Josh Mintzer's story…

"Josh and I met in 2011. It was my second year as a counselor and Josh was visiting his sister, Lauren. Lauren wanted to show Josh around and introduce him to her friends. Lauren saw me in the food line, and she came up and introduced us. Before we knew it, Josh was offered a job as a counselor. We became fast friends and spent a day off together in Madison. The rest is history. We got engaged eight summers after meeting!"

Laurie Greiman and Peter Walton's story…

"Peter and I took out a Habonim canoe trip and fell in love on a tree branch while collecting campers and gear that had tipped over due to an unforeseen river swell. Our group of friends all have either met their spouses at camp or have stayed close over the years. Our children went to Chi and now it's time for the grandchildren. This past summer, the 99th summer when camp was cancelled due to COVID-19, we took our whole family to family camp so we could be at together at Chi. Now the grandkids are hooked!"

Alexa and Aaron Appelbaum's story…

"We first met on the Noar Deck during the first few days of camp in 2009, when we were 15. We became friends and, soon after, we shared our first kiss at camp. We've traveled the world together from Israel to Ireland, Prague to Hawaii, and many, many more adventures. Aaron proposed to me in 2018. A year later, we got married. Camp Chi has played an important and integral role in both of our lives. Our siblings all attended Camp Chi and we still have very strong friendships with many of our camp friends. We hope to send our future children to Camp Chi one day, so they can experience the same 'Camp Chi magic' we did."

Julie and Sheldon Silverman's story…

"We met at camp when we were 8 years old and immediately liked each other! We were both spending some time over winter break at Camp Chi-at Winter Wonderland. We were friends but lost touch. Sheldon went to camp second session and I always went first. Finally, during the summer of 1986, we found ourselves together at Camp Chi for the first time since that winter back in 1973. This time we were both on staff and spent the entire summer together. Fast forward just a few years… we will soon be celebrating our 30 th wedding anniversary!"


These treasured Camp Chi stories of friendship and love will continue to burn bright. And, the newest generation of campers will be ready to write their stories starting, of course, with this very special centennial summer. The countdown is officially on!

To learn more about Camp Chi and all that awaits in Summer 2021, visit

JCC Chicago is a partner with the Jewish United Fund of Chicago in serving our community. 


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